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Thinking outside the box

Kaitlyn Boyer named Norman Borlaug Scholar, attends Iowa Youth Institute program

Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 2:57 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 3:10 p.m. CDT
Contributed photo Pictured are Brandi Boyd, agricultural education instructor and FFA (Future Farmers of America) advisor at Clarke Community High School, left, and Kaitlyn Boyer at the Iowa Youth Institute in Ames.

One of these days, Kaitlyn Boyer is going to be fixing global, agricultural problems. She's already taken on the issue of malnutrition in Somalia.

Boyer, 15, is a freshman at Clarke Community High School.

Recently, Boyer became a Norman Borlaug scholar and attended the Iowa Youth Institute program at Iowa State University (ISU) in late April. The first step to becoming involved with the program is writing a five-page paper, and Boyer chose the topic of Somalia's malnutrition.

"I did it because I thought it sounded like a really interesting thing, and it'd be a good opportunity," Boyer said.


More than 300 Iowa high-school students and teachers attended the 2013 World Food Prize Iowa Youth Institute at ISU, participating in interactive activities across campus and presenting papers and ideas on global food security.

"This is the first year we've been involved with this side — the youth program — and I asked the students if anybody was interested," said Brandi Boyd, agricultural education instructor and FFA (Future Farmers of America) advisor at Clarke Community High School.

It was a perfect opportunity for Boyer, who said she loves doing stuff with agriculture, especially animals.

Boyd had the opportunity to attend the program with Boyer.


After the program's opening ceremony, students had the opportunity to participate in two sessions. They had an "Immersion" session, and Boyer chose to learn about animal reproduction and agriculture.

A college professor came into the lab and talked to students about the importance of animal reproduction and genetics. The professor also brought out lab specimens for them to see.

Boyer said she enjoyed seeing the uterus of a lamb.

"It was really cool," she said.

For lunch, the students dined with the community and state leaders. Gov. Terry Branstad sat at the table and talked with them about their papers and research.

Sharing ideas

During the afternoon session, the students were organized into groups of eight to share what their research papers were about, and how to solve the current agricultural problems the industry is facing.

"Here you have a group of high-school students who are talking about issues — international issues," Boyd said. "It was amazing … I sat as an observer and watched and it was, oh, it was mind-boggling. I had a hard time being quiet because it was so exciting."

Since Boyer wrote the five-page paper and attended the program at ISU, she will receive a $500 scholarship to ISU's College of Agriculture.

Even though Boyer is still a high-school freshman, she said she wants to go into an agriculture-related field. However, she hasn't decided if it will be at ISU or another university.

"I kind of want to keep my eyes open," Boyer said.

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